Vuelta a España: Hugh Carthy tames fearsome Angliru for stage 12 victory

Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling) conquered the Alto de l'Angliru with a charge in the final 1,200 metres to win stage 12 of the Vuelta a España on Sunday for his first career Grand Tour victory, soloing in ahead of Astana’s Aleksandr Vlasov with Enric Mas of Movistar in third.

Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), who spent the past three days tied on time with Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) atop the general classification, grimaced as he crossed the line in fourth, 10 seconds ahead of the Slovenian to finally regain the red leader’s jersey.

"I remembered it from 2017 but it’s been incredible," Carapaz said of the climb. "I tried in the end, Mas and Carthy also went for it and I continued with my pace and that gave me a 10-second advantage. That’s great for us, we’re going towards the time trial with the idea to give our best and defend the leadership. 

"I'm very happy to wear [La Roja] again. It’s a good thing for me, for the team, and for everything we’ve been doing."

With 3.5km to the summit, it was Mas who put a charge to shatter the lead group of 10 riders. A few hundred metres later, Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) seemed to hit his limit on the steepest pitches, providing an opening for his rivals.

Roglič would finish fifth, but with Carthy, Vlasov and Mas sweeping up the time bonuses, he limited his loss to Carapaz to 10 seconds to hold onto second place in the general classification. Carthy leapfrogged Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) to move into third overall at 32 seconds.

"It's a dream come true to win any professional race but to win in a Grand Tour on a mythical climb, it doesn't get any better than that," Carthy said. "It's hard to put into words."

The overall classification got even tighter on the Angliru rather than being blown apart, with Carthy three seconds ahead of Martin in the battle for the podium with Mas the only other rider within striking distance at 1:50 with a 33.7km individual time trial coming after the rest day.

"I think for the public it's everything they want, a close race heading into a time trial. It's everything to play for," Carthy said.

Roglič, meanwhile, took his time loss in stride, wearing the green points jersey and joking, "It was too hard a climb for a sprinter, eh? I didn't have the best day but at the end it's OK, I'm happy with it. Now we go on with the time trial on Tuesday. It definitely will be a really hard one. I will do my best and we will see after Tuesday."

With second on the stage, Vlasov moved into the top 10 at ninth overall but sixth through 10th are all more than five minutes behind Carapaz. The biggest victim of the stage was Movistar's Marc Soler who, after climbing into sixth overall on stage 11, suffered mightily on the Angliru and plummeted down the standings to 19th after losing over 14 minutes on the final ascent.

How it unfolded

With only 109.4km on tap and the fearsome Angliru piercing the final kilometres, stage 12 of the Vuelta a España was a key opportunity for the overall contenders, where Roglič and Carapaz remained tied on time at the top spot. Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) was only 25 seconds behind in third and Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling), the only other rider within a minute of Roglič and Carapaz, in fourth at 58 seconds. The standings would inevitably look different when the sun set on the Angliru.

The peloton gathered nervously behind the lead car waiting for the flag to drop from La Pola Llaviana. There were attacks immediately as riders passed out of the neutral rollout and the peloton stretched out into a long line along the Río Nalón.

Julius van den Berg (EF Pro Cycling) and Anthony Roux (Groupama-FDJ) were the first to gain a measurable gap, powering along in the big rings and smallest cogs heading downstream while behind more attacks flew with mountains classification leader Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) smartly following a large move that reached the leading duo after 14km of racing.

Once they came together, the front group included 21 riders: Nans Peters (AG2R La Mondiale), Luis León Sanchez (Astana Pro Team), Andreas Schillinger (Bora-Hansgrohe), Juan Osorio and Angel Madrazo (Burgos-BH), Jhojan Orlando Garcia Sosa (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Lukasz Wisniowski (CCC Team), Guillaume Martin and Pierre Luc Perichon (Cofidis Solutions Credits), Mattia Cattaneo and Michael Mørkøv (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Julius Van den Berg (EF Pro Cycling), Anthony Roux (Groupama-FDJ), Cameron Wurf (Ineos Grenadiers), Kobe Goossens and Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto Soudal), Robert Stannard and Alexander Edmondson (Mitchelton-Scott), Imanol Erviti (Movistar Team), Enrico Gasparotto (NTT Pro Cycling), Aleksandr Riabushenko and Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates).

Philipsen was the first to give way as the road tilted uphill for the opening category 3 climb, the Alto del Padrún, and was followed out the back by Osorio, Gasparotto and Mørkøv. Guillaume Martin took the maximum points at the top, ahead of Perichon and Madrazo. From the field, Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) attacked to replace the young sprinter, attempting to bridge with Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto Soudal) and joined with Osorio and Gasparotto, chasing at a minute on the sinuous descent and the valley en route to climb number two: the Alto de Santo Emiliano, another category 3 ascent.

Jumbo-Visma patrolled the front of the peloton at 2:28 to the break as the team cars were given the green light to move ahead to support the breakaway, the leaders passing the 70km to go point. It was a frantic first hour, with the riders clicking off 42 kilometres and two category 3 climbs before the race finally settled in for the long haul. Martin again took the three points available on the Santo Emiliano.

There was another fast, twisting descent before the Alto de la Mozqueta and Jumbo-Visma used the speed to keep the breakaway in check. With 60km to go, the chasing quartet finally had the leaders in sight on the roads leading into Ciaño, and Formolo and companions made it 20 riders at the head of the race.

On the Mozqueta, UAE Team Emirates went on the attack, with Ivo Oliveira pulling David de la Cruz out of the peloton, and Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) joining with Thymen Arensman (Sunweb). The Colombian was trying to gain back some lost time but struggled to remain in contact on the climb and was quickly dropped and, later, left behind by the peloton, too.

With Arensman and De la Cruz chasing alone with 1km to go to the top, Riabushenko dropped back to try and help the Spaniard into the move, while Garcia lost touch with the front group and faded back. Movistar ramped up the pace in the peloton, bringing the leaders to under 90 seconds with 49km to go at the top of the climb.

Guillaume Martin once more led the breakaway over the top, collecting the 10 points for the category 1 ascent over the threesome of Perichon, Madrazo, and Formolo. But a light rain began to fall with 40km to go and Formolo, taking the lead on the descent, slid out in a slick turn and lost touch with the breakaway putting paid to his stage win aspirations. In the peloton, Ineos' Andrey Amador also fell.

Movistar brought the leaders' gap under the minute mark with 36km to go while De La Cruz, now with Formolo, were brought back by the peloton. The leading group fractured under the pressure, with Madrazo, Martin, Perichon and Roux pushing on without the rest. The quartet rolled through the sprint behind Martin with 32.4km to go, 15 seconds on the chasing group and 51 on the peloton and the penultimate climb, the category 1 Alto del Cordal still standing between them and the Angliru.

Alto del Cordal

Perichon and Madrazo, seeing the rest of the breakaway on their tail, sat up with 29.7km to go and soon Roux and Martin were back in the fold and the reduced leading group - minus Erviti, who dropped back on the previous climb to help his team chip away at the gap to the red jersey group which came down to half a minute midway up the climb.

Cattaneo and Sanchez, sensing the danger of being caught, put in an attack that shattered the lead group. Martin surged to scramble across with Roux just behind while the rest of the riders were left to be caught by the Movistar-led bunch. It took the Frenchman a while but he caught the duo before the top.

Chris Froome (Ineos Grenadiers) led the red jersey group into the steepest part of the climb, pulling Carapaz away by about 10 metres, but Jumbo-Visma quickly snuffed out the move. The surge caused immense suffering at the back of the group, with Formolo among those spat out the back but Roglic still looking steady. 

So calm were Jumbo-Visma that as Froome - Ineos' last man for Carapaz - rocked and rolled trying to push the pace, Sepp Kuss cruised alongside, grabbed some bidons from a helper on the roadside, and drifted easily back to hand off a snack to Roglič. Froome's surge did have one effect, it shot Marc Soler out the back, with Movistar's pace-setting backfiring on the rider in sixth place in the standings.

Martin once more claimed top honours at the Cordal over Cattaneo and Sanchez, while in the red jersey group Soler bled 20 seconds on the Cordal climb as Jumbo's Robert Gesink put in a surge to led the peloton down another tricky descent ahead of Kuss, 45 seconds behind the lead trio.

The Angliru

The Cordal's upper slopes of 14 per cent were just a brief wake-up call for the legs ahead of the daunting Angliru, which kicks up to over 22 per cent in the first kilometre. Soler managed to just tack onto the back of the red jersey group before they started the climb, while Jumbo-Visma put on a show of force with five riders at the front with Roglič, and Carapaz with only Froome.

Gesink chased down the leaders on the lower slopes and, as the motorbikes rumbled past signalling the catch, Martin attacked in a last-gasp attempt but was swept up with 10.5km to go. What was left of the 'peloton' now compatto. As the grade began to bite, Soler again struggled to stay in contact.

Froome went back to the Ineos car, and with the gradient a 'reasonable' 9 per cent, settled in with Soler, leaving Carapaz to fend for himself for the last 10 kilometres. Soler had teammate Carlos Verona to help chase but with 7.3km to go the Spaniard was 1:25 behind and slipping down the GC.

Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) set a steady tempo that drastically shrank the front group as the gradients went back above 13 per cent - from the top 10, Felix Grossschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott) dropped back . Only 10 riders remained at the front: Roglič with Kuss, and Vingegaard, best young rider Enric Mas, Wout Poels (Bahrain McLaren), Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation), EF Pro Cycling's Hugh Carthy and teammate Michael Woods, Carapaz and Astana's Aleksandr Vlasov.

Vingegaard stayed on the front with a heroic pull from 6.8km to go when Gesink pulled off into the steepest section, still the group of 10 with singletons chasing. Mas dropped back to the rear of the group before slingshotting away with 3.5km to go, finally ending the spell of Vingegaard as Kuss took over the pace-setting.

The increase in pace put Dan Martin in trouble and distanced Woods with Kuss, Roglič, Carthy, Carapaz and Vlasov inching their way back up to Mas on the torturous pitches. With 3km to go, Roglič let a gap open and Carthy capitalized, putting in a dig that was followed by Vlasov. Kuss stayed with his captain, who had Carapaz glued to his wheel and Martin was just able to claw his way to the Ecuadorian's wheel.

The gaps between the lead seven were mere metres, but at 23 per cent a metre is a mile and Carapaz was laser-focused on the Slovenian's wheel. Mas kept chipping away at the front, forging out 10 seconds (but maybe 30m) on the sextet that came back together behind. The most brutal pitches come with 2km to go, where Carapaz at last put in his bid to reclaim la roja.

Kuss stayed with Roglič as Carthy and Carapaz powered up to the Movistar man, making it three at the front and Carapaz's jaw set in determination. Vlasov, then Dan Martin, surged to go after the leaders as Kuss paced Roglič at 12 seconds with more than a kilometre to go.

Carthy attacked into a switchback as the gradient eased - opening up a solid gap - with Mas, Vlasov and Carapaz chasing - and Dan Martin still with a gap on Roglič. The red jersey might have been moving onto Carapaz's shoulders but Roglič limited the damage ahead of the rest day and the critical time trial on stage 13.

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Full results
PlaceRider (Country) TeamResult
1Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling03:08:40
2Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana Pro Team00:00:16
3Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team00:00:16
4Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers00:00:16
5Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma00:00:26
6Sepp Kuss (USA) Team Jumbo-Visma00:00:26
7Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation00:00:26
8Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain McLaren00:01:35
9Michael Woods (Can) EF Pro Cycling00:01:35
10Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe00:02:15
11Mikel Nieve Iturralde (Spa) Mitchelton-Scott00:02:15
12George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma00:02:54
13Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team00:02:54
14Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Team Jumbo-Visma00:03:31
15David De la Cruz Melgarejo (Spa) UAE Team Emirates00:03:41
16Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) UAE Team Emirates00:03:41
17David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ00:03:41
18Robert Gesink (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma00:04:01
19Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis00:04:30
20Ion Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team00:04:30
21Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck-Quickstep00:06:12
22Jan Hirt (Cze) CCC Team00:06:12
23Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team00:06:44
24Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Movistar Team00:06:44
25William Barta (USA) CCC Team00:07:07
26Oscar Cabedo Carda (Spa) Burgos-BH00:07:14
27Niklas Eg (Den) Trek-Segafredo00:07:34
28Dorian Godon (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale00:07:53
29Andrea Bagioli (Ita) Deceuninck-Quickstep00:08:15
30Robert Stannard (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott00:08:37
31Victor Lafay (Fra) Cofidis00:08:56
32Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis00:09:39
33Julen Amezqueta Moreno (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA00:10:00
34Georg Zimmermann (Ger) CCC Team00:10:28
35Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Total Direct Energie00:11:34
36Juan Pedro Lopez Perez (Spa) Trek-Segafredo00:12:11
37Michael Valgren (Den) NTT Pro Cycling00:12:11
38Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Burgos-BH00:13:58
39Nicholas Schultz (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott00:14:01
40Ide Schelling (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe00:14:27
41Mark Donovan (GBr) Team Sunweb00:14:29
42Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team00:14:33
43Anthony Roux (Fra) Groupama-FDJ00:15:07
44Thyman Arensman (Ned) Team Sunweb00:15:24
45Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale00:15:43
46José Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team00:16:10
47Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team00:16:10
48Gonzalo Serrano Rodriguez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA00:16:10
49Jose Herrada (Spa) Cofidis00:16:10
50Kobe Goossens (Bel) Lotto Soudal00:16:21
51Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Team Sunweb00:17:11
52Clément Champoussin (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale00:17:15
53Lennard Hofstede (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma00:17:57
54Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team00:17:59
55Rob Power (Aus) Team Sunweb00:17:59
56Bruno Armirail (Fra) Groupama-FDJ00:18:21
57Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers00:18:46
58Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates00:18:46
59Gino Mäder (Swi) NTT Pro Cycling00:18:46
60Chris Froome (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers00:18:46
61Jetse Bol (Ned) Burgos-BH00:18:51
62Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott00:20:12
63Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team00:20:12
64Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJ00:20:12
65Julien Simon (Fra) Total Direct Energie00:20:12
66Romain Sicard (Fra) Total Direct Energie00:20:46
67Michael Storer (Aus) Team Sunweb00:20:46
68Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal00:21:38
69Alexander Edmondson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott00:21:59
70Paul Ourselin (Fra) Total Direct Energie00:23:04
71Valentin Ferron (Fra) Total Direct Energie00:23:04
72Omar Fraile Matarranz (Spa) Astana Pro Team00:23:59
73Jesus Ezquerra Muela (Spa) Burgos-BH00:24:43
74Michel Ries (Lux) Trek-Segafredo00:25:38
75Scott Davies (GBr) Bahrain McLaren00:25:49
76Tosh Van der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal00:27:24
77Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Astana Pro Team00:27:52
78Fred Wright (GBr) Bahrain McLaren00:28:19
79Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates00:28:31
80Stefan De Bod (RSA) NTT Pro Cycling00:28:31
81Ricardo Vilela (Por) Burgos-BH00:28:31
82Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates00:28:31
83Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Israel Start-Up Nation00:28:31
84Cameron Wurf (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers00:28:31
85Rory Sutherland (Aus) Israel Start-Up Nation00:28:31
86Jonathan Lastra Martinez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA00:28:31
87Omer Goldstein (Isr) Israel Start-Up Nation00:28:31
88Logan Owen (USA) EF Pro Cycling00:28:31
89Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) CCC Team00:28:31
90Brent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto Soudal00:28:31
91Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team00:28:31
92Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) EF Pro Cycling00:28:46
93Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe00:28:46
94Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe00:28:46
95Tsgabu Gebremaryam Grmay (Eth) Mitchelton-Scott00:28:46
96Dion Smith (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott00:28:46
97Remy Mertz (Bel) Lotto Soudal00:28:46
98Pierre Luc Perichon (Fra) Cofidis00:28:46
99Paul Martens (Ger) Team Jumbo-Visma00:28:46
100Jorge Arcas (Spa) Movistar Team00:28:46
101Stan Dewulf (Bel) Lotto Soudal00:28:46
102Ian Garrison (USA) Deceuninck-Quickstep00:29:19
103Martin Salmon (Ger) Team Sunweb00:29:19
104Pim Ligthart (Ned) Total Direct Energie00:29:19
105Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana Pro Team00:29:19
106Jannik Steimle (Ger) Deceuninck-Quickstep00:29:33
107Jhojan Orlando Garcia Sosa (Col) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA00:29:48
108Aritz Bagues Kalparsoro (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA00:29:48
109Julius Van den Berg (Ned) EF Pro Cycling00:29:51
110Max Kanter (Ger) Team Sunweb00:30:02
111Callum Scotson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott00:30:35
112Willie Smit (RSA) Burgos-BH00:30:35
113Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-Quickstep00:30:56
114Aleksandr Riabushenko (Blr) UAE Team Emirates00:30:56
115James Piccoli (Can) Israel Start-Up Nation00:30:56
116Juan Felipe Osorio Arboleda (Col) Burgos-BH00:31:11
117